Atelier Van Lieshout, War. 2017. Steel, 60x44x71 cm. (Photo: Elizabeth Carababas).

Marking one year since the launch of its gallery space in Los Angeles, Carpenters Workshop Gallery opened a group show, “CHAOS,” curated by creative director and founder of SIZED Alexander May. The exhibition showcases the gallery’s collaborative approach that encompasses all forms of artistic expression. On view are the work of over 20 iconic and illustrious artists today, including Ingrid Donat, Sterling Ruby, Vincenzo De Cotiis, Thomas Houseago, Victor Barragan, Suda Kokuta, and Rick Owens.

At its premise, the title “CHAOS” suggests an investigation of contrasting textures and forms, showcasing a balance of opposing, creative perspectives and the inherent and understated beauty that can organically emerge from disorder. “CHAOS” seeks to stir up a cultural dialogue, providing snapshots of the world through the purposeful placement of iconic, respected artistic voices of today’s creative landscape.

WHAT: CHAOS, Curated by Alexander May

WHEN: June 23, 2023-September 9, 2023

WHERE: Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 7070 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles

The vision of creative director Alexander May is the discerning lens behind the show’s composition. May says of how the idea for the exhibition and its title came about, “I wanted to explore the concept of chaos in terms that felt fresh. I am very inspired by how language affects our perception of the world around us, and with chaos being such a descriptive word, I thought there was a lot to push. From my perspective, this is primarily reflected in the exhibition through the range of materials that make up the pieces featured in the show.”

The exhibition itself is a study of contrast. The show includes an expansive display of works with elements of naturalism balanced against stark, industrial pieces. Materials in use on display include steel, fiberglass, stromatolite, bronze, marble, glass, sycamore, walnut, ash, plywood, basalt, composite, glass, oil, clay, marble, moose antler, aluminum, acrylic, limestone, nickel, yarn, concrete, rubber, rope, foam, plexiglass, polyurethane, latex, paper, ink, ceramic, kaolin, ceramic glaze, and polyester. The interplay and reactions to different materials are apparent, generating a unique dialogue with each permutation.

Alexander May’s monochromatic curation challenges preconceived notions and encourages viewers to redefine the meaning that is habitually assigned to the objects on display. Speaking abiut his curation process, May notes that, at first, it is always intuitive. “For “CHAOS,” it was really exciting because I had such a vast catalog of incredible works from all the designers and artists represented by Carpenters Workshop. I really wanted to complement their roster with some strong emerging and established designers and artists that I thought would make for some exciting dialogues.” The profound dialogue between the artists, their creative expressions, and the broader cultural landscape are apparent in the exhibition. “CHAOS” exhibits an array of thought-provoking works that redefine artistic boundaries, unraveling the harmony within apparent disorder.

In choosing the specific artists for “CHAOS,” May says that he considers each designer and artist a part of a larger, collaborative conversation around material and form. “So, in considering the best outcome for this, my decisions were based around that intention as well as, of course, past histories and engaging relationships with the artists and designers I work with.” He adds, “Each artist in the exhibition has a unique perspective on their craft, with various mediums, ages, and countries represented. I think that as all the pieces work well together as a whole, they are also incredibly engaging individually.”

Ron Arad, “New Orleans #8,” 1999. Pigmented polyester reinforced with fiberglass, 371/5 x31x51 in. (Photo: Elizabeth Carababas).

Through its new and thought-provoking pieces, the exhibition’s immersive environment invites viewers to explore the global design-led artistic landscape. May hopes that the viewers of the show will discover an artist or designer that they have never heard of. He also hopes that they’ll take with them a strong feeling of the beauty in how shapes, materials, and colors that are seemingly disconnected can find common ground.

The exhibition space of the gallery will be transformed to allow for varying levels of display integrated throughout the gallery. By contextualizing the environment, the exhibition seeks to transcend formal methods of presentation and creates an immersive, multi-dimensional encounter. Viewers can choose their path through the show, which offers multiple pathways that enable different stories, told by exploring scale, texture, and material. The space invites contemplation and celebrates the transformative power of chaos in art. At the end of our conversation, May told us his take on the word chaos, “The beauty of the word ‘chaos’ is that it has a different definition for everyone, and I am still looking for mine, as it remains elusive.”